Wholesale deregulation equals wholesale disaster

Powerex settlement with California the result of mismanaged power grid

Editor, The Times:

A short while back I heard a curious thing.

Powerex, the electricity selling arm of BC Hydro, had decided to settle with the state of California to the tune of roughly three quarters of a billion dollars on a charge that BC Hydro had pulled a fast one when it sold power to that state in 2000 and 2001.

That was in the days of Enron, when deregulation ruled the day. The results proved that while it’s good to cut the red tape now and again, wholesale deregulation equals wholesale disaster –  whether it’s savings and loans, power companies or financial institutions.

Do you remember (probably not) Enron? I can’t fault you there, although it was an unavoidable topic of scandal at the time. All the money lost, 50,000 jobs down the drain, the rolling blackouts in California, the ‘Burn Baby Burn’ culture of the phoney energy company was soon swept under the rug to be forgotten by almost everyone – almost everyone that is.

What came next, in the deregulation follies was the virtual collapse of the entire American financial system, but that’s another story!

Back to Enron for a recap. This ‘phoney’ energy company used schemes called Fat Boy, Death Star (this one was really accurate) and Ricochet to mislead California’s power grid, creating false congestion and then charging huge prices to relieve it.

It was into this polluted atmosphere that BC Hydro sold power, playing by the rules of the time, to the tune of $1 billion.

As Keith Baldrey, writing in the Vancouver Courier, points out, “This is a bitter and expensive pill to swallow.”

It also smacks of right-wing government’s tendency to put corporate interests over those of its citizens. – not good for anyone.

Dennis Peacock


Clearwater, B.C.



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